Australia-listed Ord River Resources ORD.AX said on Monday it had discovered potentially large bauxite deposits in Laos, a country little known for its mining industry.
ORD said it had an agreement to develop a mine in the Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos in partnership with China Non-ferrous Metals International Mining Co. Ltd. (CNMIM), a government-run group responsible for sourcing minerals overseas for China.
The discovery pushed Ord’s stock up more than 5 percent to A$0.41, bucking a modest down trend in the wider S&P/ASX200 .AXJO index on Monday.
Bauxite is needed to make alumina, the raw material required in aluminium making.
Early analysis of the discovery pointed to enough high-grade bauxite to support a mining operation, Ord said.
The Bolaven Plateau also has the potential to support a fully integrated aluminium industry of bauxite mining, alumina refining and aluminium smelting given an abundance of hydro power in the region, the company said.
CNMIM had already secured an interest in 138 square kilometres (86 square miles) of the Bolaven Plateau for bauxite exploration and development, it said.
Neighbouring Vietnam last month said it was looking at a $1 billion joint venture with U.S. aluminium producer Alcoa Inc. AA.N to mine bauxite and refine alumina in the country’s Central Highlands.
Australian mining companies have made modest inroads into communist Laos — less than a decade ago there was no mining industry — and the government now encourages prospecting by foreign companies.
Pan Australian Resources Ltd. (ASX: PNA.ax) is to start copper mining in the country in 2008, while Oxiana Resources Ltd. (ASX: OXR.ax) mines copper along the Laos portion of the Ho Chi Minh trail.
Named after France’s Les Baux district where it was first identified in 1821, bauxite is produced by tropical or semi-tropical weathering of alumina-bearing rocks.
Australia mines about 40 percent of the world’s bauxite each year. Guinea also is a big supplier of bauxite.
Neighbouring Vietnam last month said it was looking at a $1 billion joint venture with U.S. aluminium producer Alcoa Inc. AA.N to mine bauxite and refine alumina in the country’s Central Highlands. ($1=A$1.33)